Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

“Inclusion” does not mean all theories are equal

Jonathan Neville has spilled much ink complaining about how Heartland theories are not accepted by BYU Religious Studies Center, Book of Mormon Central, FAIR, Interpreter, and other “M2C/SITH” institutions.

In his latest jeremiad, he grumbles:
On this blog, as well as my other blogs and books, we include all points of view. I link to and discuss multiple working hypotheses, always hoping this leads to unity (which is not the same as agreement). Everyone who loves, lives by, and seeks to share the Book of Mormon ought to feel a sense of unity of purpose, even if we have different ideas about its setting, historicity, and origins.

Yet leading LDS intellectuals oppose inclusion and actively exclude even faithful members whose interpretations don’t perfectly align with their M2C and SITH theories.

Specifically, the editorial policies of fairlatterdaysaints.com, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter and others specifically and adamantly exclude those of us who don’t accept M2C and SITH.

Maybe someday they will change. No one is asking them to abandon the theories they have promoted for decades.

We just ask them to accommodate multiple working hypotheses so Latter-day Saints can make informed decisions.
In his blog post, Neville abuses a quote by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Twelve about inclusion and unity. Inclusion and unity are important principles, but they are not virtues in and of themselves. For example, it would not be a wise idea to include gay couples in temple sealings simply for the sake of unity between Latter-day Saints who accept gay marriage and those who don’t. Inclusion and unity are only good if the principles being included are true.

Back in May 2019 I wrote:
What Neville fails to grasp is that not all theories are equally valid and worthy of serious consideration. For example:

  • Should BYU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy be required to teach the flat-earth theory alongside the belief that the earth is a sphere?
  • Should BYU’s Department of History be required to teach the theory that NASA faked the moon landings alongside the belief that the Apollo missions actually landed on the moon?
  • Should BYU’s Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages be required to teach the theory that ancient aliens built the pyramids alongside other theories?
  • Should BYU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry be required to teach alchemy alongside other theories of chemical science?
Flat earth Jonathan Neville bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com Heartland Book of Mormon
Jonathan Neville believes we should include “all points of view” and “multiple working hypotheses.”
Just because Jonathan Neville believes that his theories are faithful doesn’t mean they’re true or worthy of consideration. Book of Mormon Central, Interpreter, and other Latter-day Saint organizations don’t exclude Heartland theories because they “don't perfectly align with their M2C and SITH theories”; they exclude them because they’re based on fabrications and exaggerations of history, archaeology, anthropology, and other sciences as well as distortions of scripture and prophetic teachings.

Truth is more important than inclusion and unity.

—Peter Pan


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